I wanted to check back in about how our new budget monitoring is going. Here's the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
- I am loving Mint.com. The app is particularly helpful because it is super easy to use on a daily basis to stay on top of our expenses. It doesn't always categorize things the way we want to categorize them (for example, it says P.Terry's is "fast food" and we just want to lump it under our general "Restaurant" expenses). Getting everything into the right category is integral to monitoring our budgets in the right way.
- In addition to categorizing certain expenses, I like to look at the bar graphs of where our spending is in relation to our budget for the month. It shows us whether we are over-spending based on where we should be or under-spending.
- Closely monitoring our finances is introducing stress into our lives. For example, Matt likes to eat out a lot (and we keep forgetting to turn on our crockpot in the morning), so our "Restaurant" budget is almost blown for the month. So I got frustrated when Matt generously paid for two other people's meals. His response was that budget monitoring was making me a "worse person". Ouch. I tried explaining that I was completely fine with being more generous in our lives, but that we couldn't be generous with money we don't have. Generosity without money to back it up = credit card debt. If we want to be more generous, then we need to allocate more money to particular categories where we want to be more generous (such as "Restaurants" if we want to pay for people's meals or "Miscellaneous" if we want to buy more gifts). I said I was fine being more generous but that we needed to sit down together and decide which category we wanted to take money from in order to be more generous. Do we want to travel less? Save less for retirement? Save less for our children's college educations? This conversation did not go well. It is yet another example of when my hyper-logic is too much for a given situation. Being an INTJ is the source of many strengths and many areas for growth....
- Now that I'm really getting to a good place with Mint.com, I think I want to go back in and upload our entire budget (right now it just has the pieces that we have the most control over). On second thought, that might create more work for me in terms of needing to correctly code every single expense. I think I'll just leave it as it is for now, since it keeps us focused on the purchases that can easily get out of control: restaurants, trips to Target, groceries at Whole Foods, etc.